Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sports Extra

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sports Extra

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Pulley, The Times-Union



Heat center Shaquille O'Neal is not just a big lug who dunks.

At least that's what Pete Newell, renowned tutor of basketball big men, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

"Just watch Shaquille play three games in a row," Newell said. "I don't care who they are playing, you would see a large number of different foot skills creating a shot. . . ."

O'Neal, asked about his clever footwork, just smiled and said "My feetwork?"

Take this recent play against the Hornets' P.J. Brown:

O'Neal, back to the basket on the left block, two giant steps outside the painted area, catches a Damon Jones pass with his right hand. He fakes to Dwyane Wade streaking down the baseline, lowering the ball, raising the ball, leaning back slightly until feeling the force of the 245-pound Brown on his lower back.

Then O'Neal, all 7 feet1 and 330 pounds of him, achieved all of this in one motion, and 2 seconds: He lifted his right foot and dropped it slightly back toward the basket; moved it slightly forward as he spun to face the basket; bounced just off the edge of the paint with his left foot as he got low to bounce and gather the ball; landed on his right foot just to the right of the hoop; finished with a right-handed layup.

"It happens so fast, you're just like, 'Yeah, he's spinning, he just reversed,' " Heat backup center Michael Doleac said. "But think . . . He spun off a guy, made a quick dribble, as the biggest person to ever play the game, and finishes it gracefully on the other side of the rim."


The lights went down, there was relative quiet, and thousands of lighters and matches were lit. Then the roar of Bob Irsay's helicopter, descending at midfield, was quickly drowned out by more than 50,000 people in the old Gator Bowl stomping and chanting "We want the Colts, We want the Colts . . ."

Another 5,000 or so outside the stadium, still trying to find parking, were probably chanting something else.

It was Aug. 15, 1979, on the night of the height of Jacksonville's Colt Fever. …

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